Treasuring detritus: Reflections on the wreckage left behind by artistic research
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AbstractIn 2006, Rhiannon Jones and Michael Pinchbeck exhibited fragments from their ongoing practice as research as part of an exhibition at the Surface Gallery (Nottingham). Pinchbeck showed 365 objects wrapped in brown paper and string from a project called The Long and Winding Road that involved driving a car around the country for five years as a venue for one-to-one performance (the car was later immersed in the River Mersey and then crushed before being discarded in Michael Landy’s Art Bin). Jones was showing a video called Archived Actualities that re-traced the routes of 1000 scar stories; accidents shared with her by members of the public. Jones suggests that scars are innately performative through a collision of dialogic triangulation that takes place between the rupturing of skin, the process of scarification and the architectural shifts to sites of accident. This five-year project resulted in a solo exhibition in the UK and the USA where scar story objects were collected and displayed in a gallery context, donated by people who had contributed to the archive, as their stories were retold through a series of live performance works. As part of Pinchbeck’s project, the 365 objects were belongings left behind by his brother, who died in an accident in 1998. The piece explored the invisible scars left behind by grief and the literal baggage that makes manifest loss. The objects that were wrapped up lost their emotional charge until they were revealed again during the crushing of the car at the end of the journey, the emotional wreckage becoming literal, memories mangled like the car that housed his brother’s story. For this article, both writers reflect on the detritus of their practice as research, and how in some way, Pinchbeck’s car and Jones’ scar archive ‘stage the wreckage’ of the events that triggered them. The article explores traces that are embedded into our public presentation of self and other, and are objectified through the act of conversation, in order to ask if objects can carry scars like people carry memories. The article asks what remains after physical and emotional wreckage and proposes that instead of seeing this as sediment of loss we should treasure the detritus. Jones still has the objects donated to her archive that embody the stories she was told. Pinchbeck no longer has the 365 objects his brother left behind or the car that carried them on their journey.
CitationPinchbeck, M., and Jones, R. (2019). 'Treasuring detritus: Reflections on the wreckage left behind by artistic research'. Performance Research, 24(5), pp. 101-104. DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2019.1671725.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
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